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Tractors Roll Into Paris As French Farmers Raise Pressure On Macron

Farmers staged nationwide protests last month until the government promised reforms.

Paris:

Farmers drove tractors into central Paris on Friday, putting fresh pressure on President Emmanuel Macron. Macron promised a meeting to discuss grievances, but later canceled the event.

French farmers have joined a Europe-wide movement to protest against environmental regulations, competition from cheap imports from outside the European Union, and low incomes.

They want answers from the government before the Salon de l’Agreculture, the popular national agricultural fair, opens in Paris on Saturday.

“The idea was to add a little bit of pressure before the trade fair starts,” said grain farmer Damien Grefin, Paris regional director of the main farmers’ union FNSEA.

Farmers staged nationwide protests last month until the government promised reforms.

But new measures announced by Prime Minister Gabriel Attal on Wednesday have failed to placate the protesters, with all eyes now on President Macron, who is scheduled to visit the annual agricultural fair on Saturday.

On Thursday, President Macron said he would hold a debate there involving “all stakeholders in the agricultural industry” to “outline the future” of the sector.

But the initiative got off to a rocky start when President Macron brought in the radical ecology group Soulevements de la Terre (“Earth Rebellion”). The Home Secretary recently tried to ban them, calling them “eco-terrorists”.

After protests from farmers’ unions, opposition politicians and even within the government, Seoul Events Group was not invited, with Macron’s office saying a “mistake” had been made.

But the damage was significant, with FNSEA chief Arnaud Rousseau calling Macron’s efforts “cynical” and saying he would not join “anything that does not allow for dialogue on good terms.”

In the face of calls for a boycott, President Macron canceled the event altogether, his office announced on Friday, adding that he would instead meet with farmers’ unions before the fair begins on Saturday.

Prime Minister Atal had promised on Wednesday to elevate agriculture to the “status of a fundamental national interest” and outlined a farm bill to address farmers’ grievances.

But farmers continue to block roads, set tires on fire and surround supermarkets, saying they need more support.

A police source told AFP that authorities have found the farmers’ movement “difficult to control” in some parts of the country.

About 30 tractors entered central Paris on Friday morning heading for the Les Invalides promenade near the French parliament. They began departing in the afternoon as requested by authorities.

A second convoy then entered Paris and set up camp near the agricultural exhibition site to the southwest of the capital.

FNSEA acknowledged that this year’s Expo, an important annual event for farmers, the public and politicians, would be “highly political” but said it would also hopefully be a “time for celebration”. Ta.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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